Recent Poems

Hold Fast  

In readiness for the rising seas
he roped his fears into one final tattoo, a bicep piece
of lightning forks astride a girl whose flesh he'll never touch,
with a dagger through the rising rose of Lancashire...
read the complete poem in issue 32 of the Ofi Press

A Dock is Not a Solid Thing

A chain and mooring stone first marked the dock.
Everything of importance after that was shackled
to water.

Water carried the timber, clay, seed and grain
with which to raise
a place more water than land:

wet dock, graving dock, canal, timber basin.

Water brought mariners, lock and shopkeepers,
merchants flooding The Dalton’s auction room,
with money enough to commission
artists to immortalise their fleet,

outnumbering them all, tradesmen,
labouring under the threat of sky at every lane end,
repaired more ships than they built,
ships larger than the sawmill and sailcloth shed.

Bunting and teas, dignitaries, daughters
cluttered each new launch, more and more elaborate
as downstream the river slowly silted up.


(published in the final Smiths Knoll  in 2011)




Hammock

swings
       the outdoors in
   oceans dry
       latitude a spine
   shoulders to wings
       tomorrow today
  an open shroud
       cumulus low
          that pause before


(published as part of the Burns Night Celebrations in Dumfries, Windaes Project, 2012)





If You were Walney Lighthouse and I Cockersands

 
At dusk we break open the loneliness of night,
hold steady on each muddied tide
and fix ourselves; keepers of light.

The gulls and boats of dawn blot you from sight:
you're far further than The Bay's northside.
But at dusk we break open the loneliness of night.

All I do, you reflect back at me, at times too bright;
a warning sign, you stand a quiet guide,
fix me, keep my light.

My wood, your stone; as such, unalike,
cut by this channel that keeps us tied.
At dusk we break open the loneliness of night.

Closer when water's at its height,
a flooding shoal of silt as shores collide
we fix ourselves; keeping our lights.

Throughout the long dark, we transit white,
our worlds made one: two-eyed
at dusk we break open the loneliness of night
and fix ourselves; keepers of light.


(Published in The Rialto, 2011)





The Sound of Melanin


I know these moles like the back of my hand,
the inside of my thigh. Atolls.
They are, and aren’t, as old.

Distinctive as a face, yet more secret;
they form my intimate geography.

The milky skin surrounding the clods,
in places as smooth as a slack tide, streams
back into itself, again and again —
           like sunshine, wind or fear.

           Eddies and overfalls can pull
           the most cautious boat off course.

Some mounds have faded
into the lisping pull of creases,
making them harder to navigate.

           Islands blur, from certain angles,
           one brown into another,
           disguising the passage between two
           to all but the watchful or familiar.

Others rise and breach their harbour walls, crack
like lava suddenly cooling as it meets sea.

Removed, one glistens in absence,
the scar ringing where a pebble was dropped.
           Losing a beacon throws all deep water into doubt.

           And plenty’s hidden at high tide.
           Surf peels. More reefs fizz.



(Published in Washington Square Review, 2011)

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